SALT LAKE CITY — When the Kennedy Center comes calling, you not only answer — you leave town for a week during your bread-and-butter season to perform there.
Ballet West will be performing at the famed Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., during next year's "Nutcracker" run, and that's hardly the only thing the company has cooking right now.
Between finalizing those details, running a successful capital campaign and prepping for not one, but two programs to open this week, the company is certainly burning both ends of the candle.
And oh, yeah, there's also a reality TV show Ballet West is currently involved with.
“It’s been a fascinating project,” says Artistic Director Adam Sklute, who has agreed to keep mum about the details of the show for now. But nerves certainly seem higher among the dancers at Ballet West’s studios, where camera crews have been camped out to film whatever captures their fancy. The show is set to air on the CW Channel sometime this summer.
One might be quick to assume Ballet West is reinventing itself. Sklute, who says he is “energized” by the flurry of activity, doesn’t see it exactly that way.
“We have to constantly be moving forward and open to the opportunities presented to us, yes. But we also feel passionate about and have a responsibility to our roots,” he says. The company’s upcoming “sampler” program, titled “Emeralds,” is a living case in point.
“Emeralds” (April 13, 14 and 18-21) features three works that run the gauntlet from high classical to edgy and pioneering.
The evening begins with the program’s namesake, “Emeralds.” Choreographed by George Balanchine, the ballet is one section in a larger piece titled “Jewels,” which Ballet West will perform in full next season.
“This is the dreamy section of ‘Jewels’; it’s Balanchine at his most romantic,” says Sklute, referring to the ethereal music by Gabriel Faure, as well as the nuance, intrigue and clandestine meetings hinted at in the choreography.
Next on the bill is the Grand Pas from Marius Petipa’s “Paquita,” one of the quintessential showpieces of classical ballet. Reminiscent of the Imperial Russian court when the great ballerinas were showered with admirers and laden with jewelry, the choreography showcases the period’s grandeur (as well as the dazzling jewelry).
Adding a spark to the program is contemporary choreographer Jiri Kylian’s “Petit Mort,” which he created for the Salzburg Festival in commemorating the life of Mozart. The work is set to two of the composer’s most popular piano concertos.
The first section has six men, six women and six fencing foils. The men’s first partners are the fencing foils, which they slice through the air, drop, roll and trace the floor with — all in rhythmic synchronicity. Then, jaw-dropping petite pas de deuxs occur as partners float on and off center stage.
The second section features ballerinas whose baroque gowns are but an optical illusion from which they yearn to break free — and do.
“The work speaks to the courts of Mozart’s time and the facades of the courtiers,” explains Sklute. “It deals with their inner lives and all they could not express.”
During the daytime hours of “Emeralds” opening weekend, the company will also present “The Little Mermaid.” Part of an inaugural family series, the story ballet is choreographed by Peggy Dolkas and will be presented by Ballet West II, the company’s studio trainees. The production is geared toward the younger audience with a one-hour run time, narration, brilliant sets, costumes and a family-friendly price.
“There’s definitely something for everyone during the next couple weeks,” says Sklute. “My grandmother always said, ‘Remember and honor the past, plan for the future, live in the moment.'”
He seems to be taking her mantra to heart.
If you go
What: Ballet West’s “Emeralds” and “The Little Mermaid”
When: “Emeralds”: April 13, 14, 18-21 (7:30 p.m.) and 21 (2 p.m. matinee);
“The Little Mermaid”: April 14 (11 a.m. and 2 p.m.) and April 16 (7 p.m.)
Where: Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, Utah
How Much: "Emeralds": $18-$74; "The Little Mermaid": $15-$30
Tickets: 801-355-ARTS or www.balletwest.org